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Sudanese runaway soldiers start looting in Darfur

March 5 - 2013 UMM KEDDADA

After fleeing a battle against a rebel group in North Kordofan soldiers of the Sudanese army (SAF) arrived in Umm Keddada (North Darfur) and began looting and beating local residents, various sources confirmed to Radio Dabanga.

About 60 SAF-soldiers arrived in the North Darfur town, some were walking bare feet as citizens informed Radio Dabanga. Some local villagers provided them with shoes, food and clothes, but immediately after the soldiers started carrying out assaults against civilians, the activist said.

Saddiq Abd Al Rasoul, Umm Keddada’s commissioner, confirmed to Radio Dabanga that some members of the SAF arrived in the town on Monday. He also confirmed that three civilians were lightly wounded by the soldiers and taken to the hospital for precaution, a claim backed-up by the institution’s director.

According to the commissioner, the commander of the armed forces and North Darfur authorities were informed about the incidents with SAF members in Umm Keddada. The military leader apologized to the commisioner for the violations and abuses some soldiers carried out against citizens and ordered them to stop.

Government forces and the Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) reportedly clashed last weekend in Wad Bahr, a nearby village on the border of Darfur and North Kordofan.

Despite conflicting reports concerning the battle, multiple eyewitnesses confirmed that dozens of army men arrived in Umm Keddada on late Saturday with injured soldiers; two of them died and were buried later that night. Some witnesses said the local hospital received 26 wounded SAF forces. The others were flown to El Fasher.

Beaten and looted

At least three citizens were beaten and looted on Monday night, witnesses said, adding the attacks took place on Umm Keddada’s streets and at the market.

Mohamed Haamid had his mobile phone stolen and the 50 Sudanese pounds he had in his pocket. Another victim called Batiti was robbed and beaten in front of Umm Keddada’s police station, as he was entering the building to complain about the attacks and seek protection.

Other sources said that two women who were returning to Umm Keddada from a funeral were robbed on the roadside and had their mobile phones stolen by members of the Sudanese army.

Local citziens are calling for justice and want the officers who committed crimes against civilians must be brought to court and they urged authorities to expel the other troops immediately from Umm Keddada.

Umm Keddada (UN OCHA map)

Related: President Sudan postpones trip to Darfur after battle with rebels (5 March 2013)

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